#8: Heart of stone

Now when Jesus saw great crowds around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. A scribe then approached and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head. (Matthew 8:18-20); A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26)

Dom Helder Camara was a priest in Brazil.

Have you ever seen a dry sponge full of chalk dust? Have you ever held in your hand a dry sponge stiff with chalk? If you dip it in water, all the hardness disappears, all the stiffness vanishes.

When I meet hearts that are like sponges stiff with chalk, how I would like to plunge them into the water of God’s infinite goodness! One day a lady, a dear friend of mine, said to me, ‘I’d be quite happy if my heart were like a sponge stiff with chalk. My case is worse. My heart has turned to stone. What good is a petrified heart?’ There are moments when words come to us that we did not know we had, unforeseen words, breathed directly into us by the Spirit of God. I repeated her words and commented on them: ‘What good is your heart that has turned to stone? It’s marvellous! Magnificent! Christ says he does not even have a stone on which to lay his head. Offer him your “stone.”’

The next day my friend said to me: ‘Yesterday evening your words about Jesus not even having a stone on which to lay his head made me say to him: “I find this a bit awkward. But if it’s true that you are looking for a stone on which to lay your head, well, I have my stone here. It’s a real joy for me to serve you, even in such a poor way.”’ And she continued: ‘I had an utterly deep sleep – something very rare for me. And the next day my heart no longer felt like a stone. I could look at everyone – even those who hate me and do me evil and are paid back with even stronger hate from me – I could look at everyone and almost sing from joy and peace.’ Ω

Reflect: Does your heart feel like a stone? Offer it to Jesus as a place to lay his head.

#Lent2020 © Sanctuary, 2020, quoting Dom Helder Camara, as quoted in Rowland Croucher. High Mountains, Deep Valleys. Sutherland: Albatross, 1991.


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